Portland On Our Minds

Driving through the Columbia Gorge

We’re leaving for Portland, Oregon in a few days to celebrate my birthday and…Portland.

It’s our favorite American city.  We’ve been three times, and it feels like ours in a way that great big concrete Los Angeles probably never will.  There are lush green trees. Buildings built before 1880. And human beings built for comfort, not envy.When “30 Rock”‘s Liz Lemon developed a crush on Cleveland, a city she’d only visited for a weekend, we totally got it.  That’s how we feel about Portland.

The fact that we don’t know it like the backs of our hands (or each other’s family histories), that there’s a feeling that there’s always going to be more to discover — that’s what stokes the fire.

In Portland, we love:

  • the clean, smog-free air
  • the friendly people (just try to avoid starting conversations with strangers — we wish you luck)
  • its tendency to rain (poor LA Basin, I know you would if you could)
  • the proximity to wide, unsullied beaches, deep forests, rushing rivers and snow-capped mountains
  • the gorgeous neighborhood above the NW 20s, full of Craftsman houses and surrounded by the trail paradise of Forest Park
  • the plants that grow there so happily…but are hopelessly tragic in our Zone 10 gardens (you know who you are, rhododendrons)
  • driving through the waterfall paradise of the Columbia River Gorge
  • getting lost and finding each other again in Powell’s, the largest independent bookstore on Earth
  • the neon signs that seem to float above the Willamette River at night
  • the nation’s most impressive Japanese garden
  • the gorgeous Chinese garden nestled into downtown
  • the fact that three local art schools create a laser focus on emerging artists and design
  • America’s roses? Tested here for hardiness and beauty
  • the sheer number of eco-minded liberal Democrats, writers, and foodies
  • the elegant nearby wine region, the Willamette Valley
  • the McMenamin’s franchise, which specializes in reviving and repurposing old, beloved buildings and turning them into things like second-run movie houses with couches and brewpubs
  • the fact that from the minute we touch down at the airport, we’re smiling like fools

Next week, when we’re back, you’ll get a little more Portland proper.

____________________________________________

See related posts
Portland’s Westside, Part 1 – The Pearl District
Portland’s Westside, Part 2 – Downtown
Portland’s Westside, Part 3 – Chinatown & Old Town
Portland’s Westside, Part 4 – Northwest & Nob Hill
Portland’s Westside, Part 5 – Washington Park
Portland’s Southeast Side
Portland’s Northeast Side
Falling Into the North Willamette Valley
By the Seaside…Oregon
TWT Travel Binder: Oregon